I was so lucky to get to spend the majority of my twenties working online and backpacking around the world. While I tried out the corporate routine for a year right out of university, I quickly realized spending all day in an office wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what I wanted professionally, but I knew I loved to travel.
Entering into my thirties has definitely changed the way I traveled, but I’m so grateful for all the lessons I learned in my twenties. I may not have realized all I was learning while I was doing it, but I’m definitely a better traveler and better person now because of everything I went through. So if you’re starting to travel more, keep in mind these tips for traveling in your twenties. Let’s dive in!
Yes, You Can And Should Travel In Your Twenties
Traveling during your twenties is not only possible but highly encouraged. This decade of your life offers a unique window of opportunity where responsibilities like mortgages, families, and extensive career commitments may not weigh you down. This freedom allows you to explore the world, gain diverse experiences, and broaden your horizons. There will be a million reasons why people will tell you not to travel, but trust me, it is so worth it.
How Do People Travel So Much In Their 20s?
Traveling is not always easy and it certainly takes some financial backing, no matter how social media makes it seem. Throughout my travels in my twenties, I worked as a digital nomad which allowed me to live all around the world while still earning money. Along my way, I met a wide range of people who found different ways to travel frequently.
Some travelers go on a gap year and fund their travel by working hard and saving for a year or more before spending all their savings on travel. Others spend no money by doing work programs like WOOFing and Workamping to help them slow travel extensively. Some negotiate jobs that allow them to take extensive PTO. All that’s to say, there are plenty of ways that you can travel in your twenties if you are dedicated to finding a solution.
20 Top Tips For Traveling In Your Twenties
If you’re like me and have watched Mamma Mia a million times and wistfully dreamed about galivanting the world, having some know-how before you go is important. While I didn’t do everything perfectly in my twenties, these are some of the things I learned during my travels in my twenties.
Managing your finances meticulously is crucial. Track your spending, create a budget, and stick to it. Consider using budgeting apps to monitor your expenses, ensuring your funds last longer and your adventures remain financially sustainable. I got in the habit of logging everything I purchased at the end of each day of travel. If I was doing an extended backpacking trip, I would also do weekly check-ins at the start and end of the week to properly plan out any expenses I needed to book, like hostels and transport, and decide what activities I wanted to spend money on. I didn’t always come in under budget, but knowing how I was doing helped me balance out my spending throughout the whole trip.
✈️ Pro Tip: Busy crunching numbers? Use the Jessi's Journey guide on How To Budget For A Backpacking Trip for your next adventure.
Prioritize Experiences Over Possessions
Anyone who has ever lived out of a backpack before has quickly realized how little you actually need to live comfortably. While traveling, invest in memories, not material possessions. Of course, if you find the perfect souvenir from your trip and have room in your suitcase, treat yourself. However, in the end, you’ll be glad you allocated your budget to experiences that enrich your journey—whether it's hiking to a breathtaking summit, tasting local delicacies, or diving into a vibrant cultural festival. These moments will become the core of your travel story.
Plan Ahead But Be Flexible
Striking the right balance between planning and flexibility is key. While I’m all for go with the flow type of travel where you show up and wander about deciding in the moment what to see and do, in hindsight, doing this has actually caused me to miss out on a lot while traveling. Doing a quick scan on Pinterest and your favorite travel blogs can help you build a list of must-sees, medium medium-priority spots, and if we have time maybe that could be cool things to do. You don’t need a minute by minute break down of what you will be doing, but having some idea will be helpful.
When I first started traveling, I would fill my backpack with various hygiene products and medication I was worried I might need while traveling. Most of the time those things went untouched. While you may not be able to find the exact brands you love, you will be able to find a version of that product no matter where you go. Less is more when it comes to packing. Aim for versatility and pack clothing that can be mixed and matched. Choose essential items that serve multiple purposes. A light backpack not only eases your mobility but also liberates you from unnecessary baggage.
Stay in Hostels or Budget Accommodations
Accommodation can consume a significant portion of your budget. Opt for hostels, guesthouses, or Airbnb stays to save on lodging costs. Not only do these provide affordable accommodation, they also provide a more immersive and sociable experience, allowing you to meet fellow travelers and share stories.
✈️ Pro Tip: Use the Jessi’s Journey guide on How To Find The Perfect Hostel for your next adventure.
Pay For The Guided Tour
I spent a lot of my twenties wandering about looking at things and not knowing their significance. While there are many cities you can read the history of the significant sites about online, taking a guided tour will provide local insight you can’t find online. I’ve started paying more frequently to take the guided tour or get an audio device instead of just solo exploring. However, if you want to save some money, almost every major city now offers free walking tours where the only cost is the tip you leave the guide.
Learn Basic Phrases
Familiarize yourself with common phrases in the local language, such as greetings, thank you, and asking for directions. You would be surprised by the number of times my knowing how to say “I’m sorry I don’t speak…” (fill in the language) with a giggle and a smile has gotten me free drinks, new friendships, and just generally helped ease the awkwardness. Google Translate has become a game changer for travelers, but learning a bit of the local language can go a long way.
Use Public Transportation
I’m originally from a town in Pennsylvania where walking places and using public transport is not common. I was so used to driving places that when I moved to Prague for my first European experience I was shocked by how easy it was to hop on a tram, metro, or bus and get to where I wanted to go quickly. Getting onto public transport when you don’t speak the language can be a bit intimidating at first, but do a little research ahead of time on how to pay and follow along on Google Maps to see where you are at on your route and you will save so much time and money exploring.
Travel In Off-Peak Seasons
If you’re like me, your TikTok feed was inundated with “European Summer” trend videos. I’ll be honest, Europe in the summer is truly an amazing experience, but June through August is not the only time you should consider traveling. Consider traveling during shoulder seasons or off-peak times. You'll encounter fewer crowds, better prices, and more pleasant weather. Exploring popular destinations during quieter periods allows for a more intimate and enjoyable experience.
Prioritize Your Safety
I recently had a horrible hostel situation where the place I booked was significantly sketchier in real life than it was online. In my twenties, I may have stuck it out to not lose money, but in my thirties, I hightailed my way out of there quickly. Staying safe should be your utmost priority while traveling. Stay informed about the current political, social, and health situations of the places you intend to visit. Keep your belongings secure, be cautious in unfamiliar areas, and trust your instincts when it comes to personal safety. Trusting your gut is crucial while traveling. Even if you end up losing money, peace of mind is worth it in the end.
Take Lots of Photos and Journal
One of the best ways to capture your adventures is through photographs and journal entries. These mementos will help you reminisce about your travels and share your experiences with others. While social media is a great way to document your travels, having a journal where you can log memories and put printed pictures, tickets, and other momentos is a great way to capture your adventures for future you to reminisce on. Some of my most prized possessions are my travel journals and YouTube videos that chronicled my adventures.
Try Traveling Solo
I have some of the most amazing friends, many of which I love to travel with. However, throughout my twenties, many of my friends couldn’t get away from their commitments to travel across Europe or South East Asia with me. Traveling solo is a great way to boost your self-confidence, foster independence, and get you out of your comfort zone. It allows for a unique, introspective experience where you are free to follow your own path.
Research Activities And Attractions Ahead Of Time
Research the destinations you plan to visit before you go. Look for activities, attractions, and events that align with your interests. Having a well-informed itinerary ensures you make the most of your time in each location. While there are lists of must-sees and bucket list destinations everywhere on the internet (even on Jessi’s Journey!), you don’t want to waste time going to places you aren’t actually interested in just because it’s highly praised.
Invest in Travel Insurance
Honestly, in my twenties I never bought insurance. Then one day I lost my luggage and ruptured my ear drum while backpacking in Vietnam and I quickly changed my ways. Prioritize your well-being with comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and unexpected incidents. It's a safety net that provides peace of mind, allowing you to focus on enjoying your journey.
Make Friends Along The Way
Stay open to meeting new people during your travels. It can be intimidating to approach strangers while exploring. However, travelers tend to have a lot in common with the way they view the world. After all, being nomadic and exploring is not as common as you would expect. Engage with fellow travelers, locals, and expats. These connections can offer valuable insights, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes lead to unexpected travel opportunities.
✈️ Pro Tip: Feeling lonely? This is Where To Make Friends When Solo Traveling.
Pick Up New Skills While Traveling
Embrace opportunities to learn new skills specific to the places you visit. Whether it's cooking a traditional dish, learning a dance, or mastering a craft, these newfound abilities add an enriching dimension to your travel experiences. While seeing historic sites is a special experience, learning new skills you can take home with you finish your trip will help extend your memories for your lifetime.
Disconnect and Unplug
Social media is a great way to stay in contact with friends and family back home while you travel. Still, allocate time to disconnect from technology and immerse yourself fully in the present moment. Engage with your surroundings without the distraction of screens.
Know Your Limits
Understand your physical and mental limits when traveling. Push yourself, but listen to your body and mind. Overexertion can dampen your experience, so striking the right balance between adventure and self-care is crucial. Throughout my twenties I would try to hunker down and muscle through travel experiences I didn’t love just because I had spent the money on it or felt like I should go see specific sites. In the long run, this did me no good and just caused me to have negative perspectives of places I didn’t need to have.
Take Rest Days
While traveling for extended periods, acknowledge the importance of rest. Traveling can be exhausting, and giving yourself days to rest, rejuvenate, and simply enjoy the ambiance of a place can enhance the overall quality of your journey. Think about life back home. You may hustle Monday through Friday, but then you need Saturday and Sunday to rest and recoup. There’s no shame in taking a Netflix and lying in bed day off when traveling for an extended time. You won’t be able to enjoy your travels if you’re exhausted the whole time.
Don’t Make Excuses Not To Go
There will always be a reason to not travel. If you have the desire to travel, seize the opportunity. Don't let excuses or doubts hold you back. Embrace the unknown and relish the adventures that await. I promise you, there will come a day when you will look back and wish you adventured more in your twenties.
Your Twenties Are Your Wild Years
Your twenties are a unique and exhilarating time in your life. It's a period of newfound freedom, self-discovery, and endless opportunities to explore the world. This is the time when you have the energy, the curiosity, and the flexibility to make the most of traveling. It's your wild years, and you should embrace them to the fullest.
Do you have any top travel tips? Drop them in the comments!